We often place so much emphasis on our physical condition, yet we barely promote our mental health. With busy jobs, personal pressures, judgmental social media, and the rest, it can feel normal to get overwhelmed by it all. As the stigma begins to shrink, we should all start to practice mindfulness and learn about ways to improve our mental health.
Yoga can be an incredibly effective way of using your physical body to improve your mental state. The focus on energy, stretching, balance, and meditation all contribute to how we can rest and have a break from our busy lives. We outline all the different yoga poses you can do from your own bedroom to help you start or end your day with the right attitude.
This is a great pose to start your day with and tackle some of that lower back pain you might experience if you have a desk job. The first few rounds will feel a bit stiff, as you start to flex the muscles that are usually spending their time relaxed on a chair or sofa.
The trick with this pose is to keep it slow and steady – yoga isn’t a race! Notice how the body never leaves the floor and that pelvic tilts are a subtle way to move the lower back.
The cat to cow stretches are a natural next step from the floor pelvic tilts since it just extends the same stretch to more parts of the back. Moving to your hands and knees impacts the whole spine, refreshing your body and flexing your muscles.
Make sure to focus on your breathing here to maximize its effect. Breathe in as you bend your back and raise your head, and breathe out on the reverse.
Downward Facing Dog
This is good for the whole body. Achieve the downward facing dog position from the Cat to Cow stretches by simply raising one leg, and then the other. Hold the pose with your head pointing down and keep your arms straight.
Once you set into the position above, hold it for 5-10 breaths. This will stretch everything: from arms, back, legs, and feet. Repeat as many times as you like.
Lunge and Stretch
This is a good way to get the blood flowing through the legs and practice your balance. By looking straight ahead at a focus point, it keeps you concentrated and guided. Make sure to take it in turns with both legs, aiming for 10-15 lunges for each leg.
Straight Leg Lunge
This is an extension of the previous pose, but instead, now we keep our leg straight. This should cause a bit of discomfort at first as our body enters a position it isn’t used to!
The straight-legged lunges are effective in getting our body moving again after sitting upright in a chair all day – it extends the back and stretches our legs out of their 90-degree angle they’re locked in at work all day.
Raising Arms and Mountain Pose
This is a great move you can do to stretch the entire back and pass energy from your toes to your fingers, bypassing the chest and shoulders.
This also helps with balance and gives you the chance to really feel the energy you are moving from one part of the body to another.
Standing Forward Bend
Don’t let this double-jointed model scare you! This is a very natural transition from the Mountain Pose and can help you rest a bit after standing up straight and fixing those upper back muscles.
When you do this at home, you can spend as much time as you want stretching the lower back, resting for 30 seconds, maybe even a minute. It’s also great for the hamstrings, a part of the body often neglected in other poses and exercises.
You may unknowingly do this pose at your desk – I know I do! – but this yoga position helps stretch it out in the correct way. Slowly bend your left or right leg onto the floor from downward dog and gently lie down facing the floor.
Breathe in and out for a few seconds and let your body rest on your leg. It can hurt the groin, so be careful to be delicate when first trying this. After a few days, you’ll definitely feel the difference.
Yogi’s Choice – Freestyle
As you approach the end of your workout, take this time to give your body what it wants! Make an effort to really listen to your inner needs and just go with it. It might be a return to your favorite position, or it may be something entirely new! The choice is up to you.
Savasana – The Resting Corpse!
Finally, you can relax! Your body has most likely just experienced quite an intense workout that has moved and stretched parts that usually remain neglected. Take a few moments to close your eyes, rest, and breathe slowly.
Most importantly, take this time to reflect on what you have just achieved – placing special attention on each new muscle you feel growing stronger.
Yoga is a wonderful way to align your body and mind, making sure you have a well-deserved break from your daily routine. Better yet, you can even turn regular yoga practice into your routine providing a healthy and beneficial addition to your diet and lifestyle.